And yet, I cannot escape the fact that I am slowing down. I can't push as much weight as once was the case and I have somewhat less stamina than I did just a couple of years ago. It's not that I haven't been aware of this slowly creeping decline. But last Saturday morning it kind of whacked me over the head.
We were walking across the lawn at a city park when my 14-year-old son challenged me to race him to our vehicle, which was about 100 yards away. He had already started jogging by the time he completed issuing the challenge.
I figured the short foot race would be no problem. After all, this is the kid that seems to studiously avoid any form of exercise. He generally refrains from running due to a lifelong knee problem. But he also seems to avoid walking even one step farther than absolutely necessary.
Being a generous dad, I started running somewhat half heartedly, allowing my son to get a little head start. After all, I wouldn't want him to lose too badly. Then I poured on steam and began sprinting. Noticing me gaining, my son surprisingly added a burst of speed to his stride as well.
At this point I could see that my son would beat me unless I gave it my all, so I surged into a full-out sprint. I was further dismayed when my son found yet more spare speed. He not only kept his lead; he increased it. I think I must have looked like Wile E. Coyote watching the Roadrunner tearing up the road and leaving the confounded canine in his wake.
I was proud of my son. But I must admit that the episode hurt my pride a bit. It reminded me that Old Man Time will take his toll regardless of what steps I take to stave him off. Gollum's final riddle to Bilbo in The Hobbit has repeatedly come to mind since then:
This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.
Yes, time will take its toll. But I'm not ready to start using a walker just yet. I'm still in pretty good shape. Even if my knee has hurt ever since the race.